Justin Hartley vs Chrishell Stause

Justin Hartley is a 42-year-old American actor, known mainly for his television roles, from the soap operas Passions (2002-2006) and The Young and the Restless (2014-2016), to nighttime young adult roles in Smallville (2006-2011) and Revenge (2013-2014).  Since 2016, he has played the lead role in the NBC drama This is Us.

Terrina Chrishell Stause (known professionally as Chrishell Stause) is a 38-year-old American actress with roles on soap operas All My Children (2005-2011) and Days of Our Lives, and currently, on the Netflix streaming television series Selling Sunset.

In 2014 Harltey and Stause confirmed that they were dating; in 2016, the announced their engagement, and married on October 28, 2017.  On or about November 22, 2019, Hartley petitioned for divorce in Los Angeles County California Superior Court citing irreconcilable differences.  He claimed the separation date as July 8, 2019.

On or about December 3, 2019, Stause filed her response to Hartley’s petition.  She claimed the date of separation was the date Hartley filed his petition – November 22, 2019.

In media reports, including numerous ones from internet site TMS, Hartley and Stause were photographed as husband and wife in numerous public appearances from July through November of 2019 – including a week before Hartley’s filing.

According to TMZ, Stause seemed to have been blindsided by Hartley’s petition for divorce.  She thought the two of them were happily married.

In California, all income, property and/or debts acquired during a marital separation are considered the separate property of the party who acquired them.  Therefore, it is very important for the actual separation date to be determined.  Often the separation date is agreed to by the parties, and no issue is presented to the court for determination.  However, when the parties cannot agree, then the family trial court must make the decision.

In 2016, the California state legislature changed the clause “after the date of separation of the spouses” to “while living separate and apart from the other spouse.”  Also, at the same time, the legislature added a definition for the date of separation.  “Date of separation’ means the date that a complete and final break in the marital relationship has occurred, as evidenced by both of the following:  [¶]  (1) The spouse has expressed to the other spouse his or her intent to end the marriage.  [¶]  (2) The conduct of the spouse is consistent with his or her intent to end the marriage.”  (emphasis added)

Unless the two parties can come to an agreement on the separation date, the court will have to determine the date based on the parties’ actions.  The parties were living together during July through November, but were their actions consistent with an intent to end the marriage?

Here, Stause also appears to want Hartley to pay her spousal support.  In California, spousal support will be awarded to a spouse needing additional income to maintain the marital standard of living, if the paying spouse has the ability to pay.  The length of time provided for spousal support (in a non-long-term marriage) is usually about half the length of the marriage itself.  By adding five months to the marriage, if Stause is awarded spousal support it can be increased by two and one-half months.